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Cellular Politics: Mail Bag


Prop. 71, the California initiative on stem cell research is going to generate plenty of debate, comment, and mail.
Here’s a note from Roger Hudgins who is writing in response to my eWeek column. I’ll have lots more to say on this topic, particularly after Ron Reagan speaks at the Democratic Convention this week. But feel free to join in. Rules for getting posted are pretty simple: be polite and concise and try to add to the argument, not repeat what’s been said. Here’s Mr. Hudgins:

“One disturbing aspect to your presentation of the Stem Cell issue in California is that you appear to characterize all opponents of fetal stem cell research as ‘conservatives’ – conjuring the stereotypical picture of ignorant religious zealots, and such. I think the truth is that you will find the opposition to fetal stem cell research (and I emphasize the ‘fetal’ here, as there is no opposition to adult stem cell research that I am aware of) encompasses folks from a broad political spectrum.
I applaud you when you state, ‘Stem cells can be cultivated from umbilical cord blood, but more typically they are created in laboratory settings and taken from days-old human embryos.’ At least you state correctly that this research concerns human embryos, something that some reporters prefer to avoid. However, you then fall into mischaracterization with your next sentence: ‘Prop 71 would permit the creation and destruction of those sorts of cells in state labs.’ This implies creation and destruction of the stem cells only, when, as I assume you know, it really means the creation of human life and then destroying that life in order to harvest those cells. Your carefully worded description appears to obscure that truth upon which pivots the entire ethical issue.
Use of adult stem cells have already produced effective therapies, and hold the added benefit of avoiding tissue rejection problems since the cells used in the therapies usually come from the patient herself. There is no moral issue here. Let’s throw all the resources we can into adult stem cell research.
Those of us fortunate enough to engage in this type of debate were not, obviously, subjected to having our own stem cells harvested, to our demise, while we were embryos. And somehow, having survived longer than those unfortunates, we are tempted to place more value on our lives than theirs. Everyone desires to see the horrors of Parkinson’s, MD, ALS, diabetes, etc. eradicated. But we must not do so at the expense of other humans whose value and right to live are equal to our own and our loved ones.
And I speak here with some investment in the issue…my own son is disabled, and I have two nephews with a form of Muscular Dystrophy. I would give almost anything to see them healthy and “normal” – almost anything except stealing life from another innocent.”

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 6:38 PM | Permalink

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